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Increase in Illegal and Cloned Number Plates

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Categories Automotive Industry » Driving Law »

Increase in Illegal and Cloned Number Plates

With new licence plates for 2022 being released in March, many motorists throughout the UK are set to purchase them for their vehicles.

However, while you may be eager to get your hands on the brand-new licence plates, there are a number of things you should be aware of. In recent years there has been a significant rise in cloned and illegal number plates, which has seen many innocent motorists penalised for behaviour on the road that is not their fault. 

As well as this, 2022 has seen several new number plate changes and rules come into force, which could mean your licence plates are illegal if you do not comply with them.  

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the new changes as well as the increase in plate cloning in recent years.  

What is Plate Cloning?

To some drivers, plate cloning may be an unknown quantity, but it’s not a new phenomenon. The vehicle equivalent of identity theft, plate cloning is when an individual copies the licence plate of another vehicle, attaching it to another one. Often, vehicles with a clean history (such as one with no tickets, fines or other reprimands) are selected for cloning, and criminals may also choose vehicles that are similar in appearance to the one they’re driving. 

Illegal and Cloned Number Plates

This means that if the criminal then breaks driving rules or laws, the innocent party will be fined instead of the driver that has actually committed the offence. 

In recent years, many drivers have reported that they’ve been wrongly fined for driving in clean air or low emission zones in the UK, as a result of plate cloning. 

Between January and July 2021 (the latest figures available), the DVLA had 4,110 complaints regarding fines linked to incorrect vehicles. In 2019 there were 9,384 for the entire year, suggesting that when the next round of figures is released it will be an even higher number. This is largely because more and more cities in the UK are beginning to introduce ‘clean air’ zones. London, Bath and Birmingham already have such plans in place, with Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Oxford and Cambridge all set to introduce similar schemes in the coming months. 

While this is great news for the environment, it is believed that it will see an even bigger rise in the cloning of plates as criminals look to avoid paying fines and tariffs. Combined with the relative ease with which fake licence plates can be purchased online, it’s important that motorists remain vigilant.    

If you believe that your plates have been cloned and you’ve been penalised for an offence you haven’t committed, it’s important to contact the police as soon as possible. As well as this, gather as much evidence you can (GPS data, CCTV footage etc) that proves your whereabouts at the time of the offence, and get in touch with the DVLA with the crime reference you’ve been given by the police – they should be able to help with the fact you’ve been wrongly fined.   

Number Plate Changes for 2022

In addition to the increase in plate cloning, 2022 has seen a number of licence plate changes come into force. With this in mind, it’s important to fully understand what they are so you don’t accidentally end up purchasing illegal plates. 

The new licence plate specifications include:

  • Lettering – the space between characters and margins must be 11mm. The space between the age identifier and lettering must be 33mm, and characters must be 50mm wide and 79mm tall.
  • Location identification – it’s now a legal requirement that the name and postcode of the business you purchased the licence plates from are displayed. 
  • UK identifier – now the UK has officially left the EU, the European Union flag will no longer appear on British vehicles. This will be replaced by the Union Jack, the Red Dragon of Wales or the Cross of St George if you prefer. Plus, the flag should always be on the left side of the number plate. 

With so many new changes, it’s easy for something to become overlooked. When you’re purchasing licence plates from a business, it’s important to check that all of these elements are as they should be.  

Cloned Number Plates

What Happens If My Plates are Illegal?

If your licence plates do not meet the specifications set out above, you could find yourself in trouble. Plates that deviate from the regulations are illegal, and if spotted by the police will be penalised. You’ll be hit with a £1,000 fine and your vehicle will also fail an MOT if it does not meet the changes outlined above.  

Here at The Windscreen Company, our team of expert technicians can keep vehicles of every make and model in the very best condition. Supplying quality windscreen repairs and replacement services, we work across the South East and West Midlands, helping to get you back on the road when you need us most. To find out more about how we can help you, get in touch with our team today.

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